"I'm going to start with John McCain, because,...you know, he and I had some good debates about these issues," President Obama said in the final session of the Fiscal Responsibility Summit. "But -- and I mean what I say here -- I think John has also been extraordinarily consistent and sincere about these issues. And I want to see if you've -- John, you've got some thoughts about where we need to go and some priority areas. I know you were in procurement, for example, which is an area I know we would like to work on together with you."
Said the president's former Republican rival, "Well, thank you, Mr. President. And thank you for doing this...Just one area that I wanted to mention that I think consumed a lot of our conversation on procurement, it was the issue of cost overruns in the Defense Department. We all know how large the defense budget is."
And, McCain noted, "your helicopter is now going to cost as much as Air Force One. I don't think that there's any more graphic demonstration of how good ideas have -- have cost taxpayers an enormous amount of money."
Said Obama, "I've already talked to (Defense Secretary Robert) Gates about a thorough review of the helicopter situation."
Added the president, to laughter, "the helicopter I have now seems perfectly adequate to me. Of course, I've never had a helicopter before. So, you know, maybe -- maybe I've been deprived and I didn't know it.But I think it is a -- it is an -- an example of the procurement process gone amuck, and -- and we're going to have to fix it."
This is Obama at his most appealing. He makes a gracious introduction of his rival, who in turn tries to stick in the knife by painting him as wasting taxpayer dollars on needless luxuries. Obama, rather than sniping back, turns around and agrees with McCain while making the point that he's hardly accustomed to extravagence. The man is just a very, very skilled politician.